WHO hopes new COVID-19 panel can discover coronavirus origins

The World Health Organization (WHO) mentioned on Wednesday its newly shaped advisory group on dangerous pathogens could also be “our last chance” to find out the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 — the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 —  and known as for co-operation from China.

The first human cases of COVID-19 have been reported within the central Chinese metropolis of Wuhan in December 2019. China has repeatedly dismissed theories that the virus leaked from one in all its laboratories and has mentioned no extra visits are wanted.

A WHO-led crew spent 4 weeks in and round Wuhan earlier this 12 months with Chinese scientists, and mentioned in a joint report in March that the virus had in all probability been transmitted from bats to people by means of one other animal however additional analysis was wanted.

WHO hopes China will co-operate

WHO director common Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has mentioned that the investigation was hampered by a dearth of uncooked information pertaining to the primary days of the outbreak’s unfold and has known as for lab audits.

The WHO on Wednesday named the 26 proposed members of its Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO). They embody Marion Koopmans, Thea Fischer, Hung Nguyen and Chinese animal health knowledgeable Yang Yungui, who took half within the joint investigation in Wuhan.

Maria van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, voiced hope that there can be additional WHO-led worldwide missions to China that would interact the nation’s co-operation.

She instructed a information convention that “more than three dozen recommended studies” nonetheless want to be carried out to find out how the virus crossed from animals to people.

WHO investigators say farewell to their Chinese counterpart after a WHO-China joint examine information convention held on the finish of the WHO mission in Wuhan, China, final February. WHO’s director common says that mission did not yield sufficient uncooked information. (Ng Han Guan/Associated Press)


Reported Chinese assessments for antibodies current in Wuhan residents in 2019 will be “absolutely critical” to understanding the virus’s origins, van Kerkhove mentioned.

Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergency knowledgeable, mentioned the new panel could be the final likelihood to determine the origin of SARS-CoV-2, “a virus that has stopped our whole world.”

China desires groups despatched elsewhere

WHO was in search of to “take a step back, create an environment where we can again look at the scientific issues,” he mentioned.

Chen Xu, China’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, instructed a separate information convention the conclusions of the joint examine have been “quite clear,” including that as worldwide groups had been despatched to China twice already, “it is time to send teams to other places.”

“I do believe that if we are going to continue with the scientific research I think it should be a joint effort based on science not by the intelligence agencies,” Chen mentioned. “So if we are going to talk about anything, we are doing the whole business with the framework of SAGO.”

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